Did you know that about 35% of people are born without wisdom teeth? Wisdom teeth are technically unnecessary, and some lucky people never have to deal with them!
Unfortunately, if you’re part of the 65% of people who do have wisdom teeth, you’re not so lucky. While some people never have problems, many people end up with impacted wisdom teeth.
When a tooth is impacted, it means that it’s unable to come through your gums and land in a healthy position because there’s not enough room. This won’t always result in problems if the tooth never starts to erupt, but it can also be quite painful.
But how do you know if you have impacted wisdom teeth? What can you do to fix the problem? Let’s talk about it.
Read on to learn more.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth Symptoms
Many people have impacted wisdom teeth without even realizing it! As we mentioned before, those teeth won’t always cause problems, even if they aren’t erupting. If the teeth are in good positions under the gums and never erupt at all, you may not even notice they’re there.
The problem comes in when the impacted wisdom teeth become infected or when they try to erupt, don’t get infected, but cause pain. When your wisdom teeth erupt, it’s not much different from when your baby or adult teeth erupt. It’s going to hurt!
Because the tooth can’t fully erupt, that pain can last a while and even come and go for several years.
There are a few symptoms that you can look out for. Not all of these are signs that you have a wisdom tooth infection, but it’s a good idea to visit a dentist if the signs don’t go away.
- Swollen or bleeding gums
- Pain around your back molars
- Swelling in your jaw
- Difficulty eating or speaking
- Bad breath
- A “copper” taste in your mouth (or otherwise sour taste)
Potential Risks of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
So why should you care about impacted wisdom teeth?
In some cases, wisdom teeth are just annoying. In more serious cases, however, they can cause other oral health problems.
If there’s not enough room in your mouth for your wisdom teeth, but they still erupt, they can put too much pressure on the surrounding teeth. This could cause those teeth (or the wisdom tooth itself) to crack, which puts you at a greater risk of getting a cavity.
The wisdom tooth may also make it difficult to floss due to the added pressure.
Wisdom teeth that don’t fully erupt are difficult to brush. It’s not uncommon for food and plaque to linger beneath the gums, so having a cavity even without a cracked tooth is likely.
If you’ve had braces, your wisdom teeth erupting late can cause your teeth to shift again.
In serious cases, your wisdom teeth could cause so much damage that you develop a dental abscess. Abscesses can cause oral and general health problems.
How to Treat Impacted Wisdom Teeth
If your wisdom teeth keep causing you problems, you may have to get them removed. Wisdom tooth removal is one of the most common surgeries, so don’t worry.
Most of the time, unless it’s a simple extraction, you’ll need an oral surgeon to remove the tooth. They’ll be able to cut into your gums, break the tooth apart if necessary, and remove it without leaving any debris behind.
The procedure is quick, and while it can be uncomfortable, you’ll have sedation and a local anesthetic, so it shouldn’t be painful.
Preparing for Your Wisdom Tooth Extraction
When you visit your local dentist, they’ll tell you whether or not you’ll need a wisdom tooth removal. If you do, they’ll refer you to a trusted oral surgeon.
Before the date of your surgery, you’ll have a consultation. The oral surgeon will assess your overall oral health and look at the problematic tooth. They’ll also go over general information about the procedure with you, including the cost, recovery, and sedation options.
You’ll then make an appointment for extraction.
Make sure you ask your oral surgeon whether or not you can eat before the procedure. This varies, and it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry.
If you plan on using sedation aside from nitrous oxide, you’ll want to have someone available who can drive you home. Prepare for this ahead of time.
We recommend preparing food and drinks before your procedure, so your first day of recovery is easy. You should also prepare to take the rest of the day off from work or school.
Soothing Pain At Home
While you’re waiting for your wisdom tooth appointment, there are a few things you can do to soothe pain at home.
Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water is a great way to keep it clean and reduce pain. Mix one teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm (but not hot) water and swish it around like mouthwash. Do not swallow it.
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories can help reduce pain as well.
Both clove oil and over-the-counter numbing gel are great temporary solutions for gum pain associated with wisdom teeth. They’ll tide you over while you wait for your appointment.
Are Your Wisdom Teeth Impacted? It May Be Time to Remove Them
If you have impacted wisdom teeth that are causing you pain, it’s time to talk to your dentist and a qualified oral surgeon. You don’t have to be in pain!
If you leave your impacted wisdom teeth alone for too long, you may end up with bigger problems.
We’re here to help. At Brown & Neuwirth Oral & Cosmetic Surgery Center, we offer a wide variety of surgical procedures, including wisdom tooth removal. Ask your dentist for a referral or contact us today for a consultation.